Epic Games finale to the inital Gears trilogy may have been out for a little while now, but with the upcoming GoW: Judgment we gave Ryan Lore the task of seeing just how good the third in the series was.
Gears of War 3 is the conclusion of the Gears Trilogy and as one might expect, Epic Games pulls out all the stops to make Gears of War 3 as exciting and memorable as possible. With new enemies, an engaging story, interesting characters players have know to know and love, a spectacular single player campaign, and a heart-pounding multiplayer with a plethora of modes and options, it’s easy to see why Gears of War 3 has received such high praise. Some call it the best third person shooter out there and worth every penny of the purchase price. So, is Gears of War really as outstanding as people say?
Gears of War 3 takes place two years after the battle of Jacinto; the last human city. In a final attempt to eradicate the Locust Horde and preserve the existence of man kind, the city was sacrificed, but to no avail. As the survivors bunker down on the secluded island of Vectes and make plans to rebuild, a new threat emerges, the Lambent. After the disappearance of Chairman Prescott, COG (the Coalition of Ordered Governments) disbands. With the survivors vulnerable and the military in disarray, the Lambent invade Vectes. Once again, Marcus Fenix and his COG brothers and sisters in arms fight with the fate of the human race resting on their shoulders.
Gears of War 3 continues and improves upon the high standards players have come to expect from Epic Games. This is especially true of the single player experience – and thank goodness. Gears of War is one of the few shooters out there that actually has an engaging story filled with characters that players actually care about. The campaign is exhilarating. It’s emotional. It’s everything you’d expect from a Gears of War game. Overall, one can expect to complete the stellar campaign in about 10-13 hours depending on the difficulty and whether or not the player opted to play with friends. Players have the choice of playing split screen co op, or up to 4 players online. Do yourself a favor and play online with three of your pals. It makes the campaign all the more satisfying as playing with good company creates an even bigger sense of comradery.
Gears of War 3’s narrative does have a tendency to take a few detours here and there. Fortunately, each story arc plays an important role in the overall story and contributes to the theme of the games: The human spirit, the sacrifices made to ensure self- determination, survival at its most brutal and intimate core. And players will feel invested in the plot and characters. More often than not, even the parts of the game that will force even some of the hardest gamers out there to emote, quickly leads up to pulse-pounding destruction and mayhem. Now we’re getting into the meat of the game.
Gone are the linear corridor/hallway environments that plagued the first two Gears games. In Gears of War 3, players will fight for survival in gorgeous, vibrant set pieces. Each set piece is striking and breathtaking to behold and really adds to the atmosphere and sense of urgency of the situation. Whether you’re trekking to your next destination or pumping Lambent full of lead, the visuals certainly add to the experience. There may not be as many first time “Oh shit” moments as there was in the previous games, who doesn’t remember the first time a Berserker came crashing towards them? But the campaign is still an adrenaline rush as players face off against waves of Lambent, each class with its own unique abilities. Players will have to take advantage of the many weapons available to them, and implement some strategy as flanking the enemy is emphasized more in Gear of War 3 than its predecessors, and many enemies are only vulnerable at certain points or parts on their exteriors.
Be sure to use some of the new weapon additions to your advantage. There’s something very satisfying about launching a grenade into the ground from your Digger and watching as the grenade bursts behind your Emulsion foes, obliterating them and leaving nothing but a steaming pile of Lambent flesh. For some additional playtime, try out arcade mode. Compete against friends and compare scores for bragging rights around the water cooler.
The multiplayer in Gears of War 3 is some of the best out there. Horde mode returns and it’s better than ever. Each enemy you take down earns you money which is then used to help fortify a defensive position. Each wave pits players against increasingly difficult classes of Locust and Lambent. Good luck towards the end, you’ll need it. Beast Mode is one of the biggest selling points of Gears of War 3 and was highly advertised online by the developers. I’ll put it simple. Are there any Lambent or Locust you hate because they’re a nuisance in the campaign? Or do you simply envy how badass they are? Whether you hate or love them, you can play as your favorite Locust or Lambent and take on human AI. The first time you rip off a human’s arm and beat him with it is… therapeutic.
Gear of War 3 also has the more conventional and traditional modes of play such as Team Death Match, and capture the territory. Team Death Match is exactly what it sounds like: two teams, one human, the other Locust/Lambent have at each other. May the best team win. And capture the territory is very similar to modes of other games such as King of the Hill. For a bit of extra fun, try out some of the other modes as well. Capture the Leader pits one team to capture a specific player chosen as the “Leader” while the other team tries to defend him or her. Or try the oh so satisfying Execution in which the only way to earn a real kill is by “Executing” the other players with the brutal finishing move that is different depending on the weapon you’re using. And to quell the worries of those who have played Gear of War 2 online, the lag problem has been fixed thanks to dedicated servers that ensure the multiplayer runs fast and smooth. So no more blaming the lag when a better player curb-stomps your head into the ground.
And now for some of the things Gears of War just doesn’t get right. Thankfully, this is a short list. While the dialogue does create this sense of comradery, many players will find themselves rolling their eyes, or even outright laughing at the many one-liners that are hellbent on sounding epic but really aren’t. Gears of War 3 plays it safe as there aren’t many revolutionary gameplay mechanics that change the way the game is played. Most everything you do will be more or less the same, but with a few minor tweaks here and there. The bosses, though pretty cool aesthetically, are uninspired and require little to no strategy to overcome besides pumping them full of lead. The last boss in particular was, for me, a big disappointment and unsatisfying in just about every way. Which is sad, as I had the same complaint about the first two games.
Epic Games delivers on the satisfying conclusion the Gears of War trilogy deserves. Its stellar campaign is invigorating and gorgeous to behold. Coupled with the fast- paced action and the engaging story, and you have a game that will be remembered for some time to come. The multiplayer is superb and adds hours of fun online with friends and foes alike with several new modes, weapons, and improved servers to take care of that irritating lag from the second game. And though Gears of War isn’t perfect, it is definitely worth looking into. Fans of the previous games owe it to themselves to purchase the final installment of the trilogy. And for those who haven’t played yet, give Gears of War 3 a shot and you’ll be glad you did.
You can read more of Ryan’s thoughts on games by heading over to his blog at ‘Game Reviews by Gamer Monkey’